EPL

Ref made ‘very bad’ decision but we should have killed game – Bernardo Silva

By Sports Desk December 04, 2023

Bernardo Silva feels Manchester City suffered a “very, very bad” decision against Tottenham but admits the team also need to do their own job better.

City’s players, and particularly Erling Haaland, reacted furiously when they were denied the chance to play advantage in the closing moments of a thrilling 3-3 draw on Sunday after the Norwegian striker had been fouled.

Haaland had shrugged off the challenge from Emerson Royal to play Jack Grealish through on goal, but referee Simon Hooper pulled play back to award the hosts at the Etihad Stadium a free-kick.

Haaland continued to voice his anger as he left the field after the final whistle and he later went even further by posting a remark criticising Hooper on social media.

Team-mate Silva was less emotional in his verdict.

“It is a bad decision and everyone saw it,” said the Portuguese midfielder. “But at the end we are all humans.

“The referee probably is the first one to know it was a very, very bad decision because he (Grealish) was one on one with the keeper and it could have given us the three points.

“It is a tough one to take, but in the end it is what it is, it’s football, and sometimes people make mistakes.”

City, however, also had themselves to blame after spurning a hatful of chances to claim what could have been a comfortable victory, with Haaland among the guilty parties.

City led 2-1 at the break thanks to a Phil Foden goal after Son Heung-min had scored at both ends in the opening nine minutes.

Jeremy Doku and Julian Alvarez also hit the woodwork in the first half, while Haaland missed an open goal after one of numerous Spurs errors.

Spurs recovered to level through Giovani Lo Celso, but it seemed Grealish had won it in the 81st minute, only for Dejan Kulusevski to equalise again in the 90th minute.

It was City’s third successive draw and saw them slip to third in the Premier League.

Silva said: “We have been conceding late goals against Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and now Tottenham.

“At the end it is seven points. We could be four points ahead on top of the league if we did our job properly, which is kill the game, or at least don’t concede in the last minute. At this level those little details matter.

“We need to demand more from ourselves, each one of us.”

Spurs’ late equaliser ended their run of three successive defeats.

Kulusevski, who powered in the crucial goal off his shoulder, revealed the visitors’ stronger second-half showing came after some stern words from manager Ange Postecoglou during the break.

The Sweden international told the club’s website: “The coach was very angry at half-time. It was the first time I have seen him like that but he did the right thing.

“What we did was special in the second half. It is an unbelievable feeling. These moments in life are small. We have to enjoy them and just be thankful and be proud of the team.”

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    Mikel Arteta is not setting a points total he believes will deliver the Premier League title – but the Arsenal boss has warned the rest of the season may have to be perfect if they are to do so.

    The Gunners travel to bottom club Sheffield United on Monday night knowing victory will once again see them close to within two points of Liverpool at the summit.

    Reigning champions Manchester City are also locked in the three-way tussle for the title as Arteta aims to bring the Premier League crown back to Arsenal for the first time in 20 years.

    Asked how many points might be required to win the league this season, the Spaniard replied: “You always ask me this question and I never get it right.

    “The demands, you might have to win every game. I don’t know. I have no clue.

    “There are a lot of games and we are all going to have crazy schedules and this league might be different to last season. Anything under 90 points I think it (winning the league) would be very difficult.

    “We have to improve in every aspect, that is all, all managers try to be better in what we do.”

    Arsenal were top of the table at this stage last season and led the pack for a total of 248 days before ultimately slipping behind City in the run-in.

    “I think we are where we deserve to be,” Arteta said on Arsenal’s current standing.

    “We could probably be a little bit better in terms of the points that we have deserved in the league

    “Being (back) in the Champions League is another step – that makes obviously the challenge more difficult and the amount of injuries that we had I think we are going good but we want to do better.

    “The target is clear. It’s to be better every day so that when it comes to the weekend, earn the right to win and do everything you possibly can to win the game.

    “This is the focus and the way I see them training every day gives me  more confidence and more reasons to believe that we have a good chance because they really want it.”

  • Now he is winning games – Pep Guardiola talks up Phil Foden’s impact on Man City Now he is winning games – Pep Guardiola talks up Phil Foden’s impact on Man City

    Pep Guardiola praised fantastic Phil Foden and said the Manchester City midfielder is developing into a world-class player after his wonderful, derby-winning display against Manchester United.

    Nobody expected anything other than embarrassment at the Etihad Stadium for Erik ten Hag’s stumbling Red Devils, yet Marcus Rashford’s scorcher gave them a shock half-time lead.

    United were under the cosh for large periods before and after the break, finally buckling as 23-year-old Foden scored a superb leveller in the 56th minute before then firing City ahead 10 minutes from time.

    Erling Haaland added gloss in stoppage time but there was no doubt who the star of the show was in Sunday’s important 3-1 victory for Guardiola’s title-chasing team.

    “He is right now this season (one of the best players in the Premier League),” the City boss said of man-of-the-match Foden.

    “He’s been the best so far. I always had the feeling he would score goals, in training sessions, always I had the feeling but now he is winning games.

    “To become a world-class player at that age you have to win games and he always played good, always had an incredible work ethic. Doesn’t matter what position, he doesn’t complain.

    “He lives to play football but now he is winning games. He played a false nine at Bournemouth and was unbelievable. Today after he missed the first chance against (Andre) Onana he became a little bit anxious. That is for his age, he will learn on that.

    “But Rashford scored an unbelievable goal and Phil scored an unbelievable goal too.”

    Foden helped the treble winners get out of a hole on Sunday after City fell behind for the 12th time in the league this season.

    It was their first-ever Premier League comeback win against United and means they have recovered 21 points from losing positions this term.

    The result put them back within one point of leaders Liverpool ahead of next weekend’s mouth-watering battle between the sides at Anfield.

    “We have Copenhagen on our mind and we will have time after to talk about Liverpool,” Guardiola said ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 second leg at the Etihad Stadium.

    “We have a lot of points still to play for and different places to go.”

    United bowed out of Europe before Christmas so there are no distractions before Saturday lunchtime’s return to Premier League action at home to embattled Everton.

    The injury-hit Red Devils have regressed during Ten Hag’s second season and sit an eye-watering 19 points behind leaders Liverpool, who they face in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

    Similarly concerning is the fact that sixth-placed United are 11 points off Aston Villa in fourth and six behind fifth-placed Tottenham, which could yet be enough for Champions League qualification.

    But Ten Hag does not believe United are that far behind City when not beset by injuries and felt key decisions hurt his battling side on Sunday.

    “On defining moments, we didn’t have it on our side because just before the 1-1, I think Rashford was on another break,” Ten Hag said.

    “And just before 2-1, there was (Alejandro) Garnacho in a breakthrough. I think we were really close to win or at least get a draw here.

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    “I saw it back, it was very soft, but you will understand when you are on a full-speed run, if you get a little touch then you are out of control and I think that is what happened.”

    Asked if this match highlighted a chasm between the teams, under-fire Ten Hag said: “No, I don’t think so. Absolutely not. We have many problems in injuries and, still, we had an opportunity because it was really small margins.

    “We could have scored a second goal in a debatable moment and in the second debatable moment, so you see it’s not that big. Especially when we have everyone on board we can be competitive.

    “I think also we showed, for instance, in the cup final against them when it’s really close but don’t forget City, in this moment, are the best team in the world.”

  • ‘We call him the sniper’ – Phil Foden lives up to nickname in Manchester derby ‘We call him the sniper’ – Phil Foden lives up to nickname in Manchester derby

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    Foden cancelled out Marcus Rashford’s brilliant first-half opener with a fine strike of his own 11 minutes after the break.

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    Walker, asked about Foden’s stunning equaliser, told Sky Sports: “You know when he comes in on his left foot…we call him the sniper, because he likes to shoot.

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    Foden then switched over to the left side, from where he scored his second and earned City a big victory in their Premier League title challenge.

    Walker added: “The second, probably coming off the left-hand side, you don’t really see Phil in that position but for him to find the corner as he has done, I think that just shows his flexibility.

    “He’s even been trusted down the middle as well this year, which I think is a big part of the responsibility he has taken on. We lean on him and we need important players like him.

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    “I think this season he’s been nothing short of first class. That’s the standard he sets for himself, that’s the standard we set for him, the manager (Pep Guardiola) and that’s the standard he has to keep up now.”

    Foden, who now has 18 goals in all competitions for City this season, said: “That’s my aim, to turn up in the big games.

    “That’s what I want to do and I think this season I’m proving that. I just need to keep working hard on the training pitch and keep putting performances like that in, keep working hard.

    “I understand what it means for the fans, a derby at the Etihad, it means everything for me. To score as well is even better, but overall to get the win was the most important thing today.”

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